2016 Chicago Marathon Recap

It’s been a week since the Chicago Marathon and life is returning to normal. We returned home on Monday and this week went by very fast with fall house work, car repairs, hunting and of course a return to training for next month’s New York City Marathon.

This year’s Chicago Marathon was another great experience filled with many emotions, as always. I was heartbroken that Jen didn’t get to experience it for herself. She was a great spectator and my biggest fan again this year, but it would have been nice to have her running. Next year!

I trained for Chicago to be my goal race this season, looking to improve on my best marathon time from last year. I had three goals in mind – my “A” goal was a sub 3:10:00; “B” was a sub 3:15:00; and “C” was a new PR regardless. I had run more miles than ever in my life and felt good when I arrived in the starting corral.

I joined the 3:10 pace group in the corral and enjoyed the sunrise lighting up the Chicago skyline. Before I knew it, the National Anthem had been sung and the race was officially underway at 7:30 a.m. I crossed the start line at 7:32 on my journey through the 29 neighborhoods that comprise the course.

The race started smoothly despite the congestion. I wasn’t right in the pacing pack, as I had a hard time jostling for position so I just kept them in sight and waited it out. Slowly, I was able to catch the group through maneuvers and with the aid of water stations. Last year I only stated with them for 11 miles because I felt I wanted to run faster. This year I stayed with them until I couldn’t run any faster.

Around mile 19, I just couldn’t keep pace any longer and slowly began to drift back. I felt my muscles starting to twitch and tighten and knew from my previous races what was coming – painful cramps. What impressed me the most this race was my ability to fight off the cramps and continue on, albeit at a slower pace. The last 10K was a fight more mentally than physically. I was fighting back cramps, but more importantly, I was fighting my own thoughts of self-doubt.

My “A” goal was long gone but I knew looking at my overall time and current splits I could still break 3:15:00. I continued on, sometimes at what felt like a walk (although in reality my splits were very respectable, slowing to a worst of 8:03/mile) until I saw the sign – 1 mile to go.

I gave the last mile everything I had left. I  could feel my legs tightening quickly and my stride becoming unnatural, almost painful. As I approached the finish, climbed the last hill and rounded the final corner I could see the finish line. I had 200 meters to go, less than a quarter mile, half a lap around a track. I passed the 200 meter sign when suddenly I hit the concrete as both legs seized up with cramps. “Well shit!”, I thought.

I made my way to my feet, and hobbled the final distance. As I crossed the finish line I raised my hands into the air celebrating all I had endured this year – the ups and downs, time away from family, the lonely miles, the horrible runs with negative thoughts, self-doubt, my fundraising for Team Up!, my family and friends who supported and encouraged me. I had a lot to celebrate!

I looked up at the clock, then down at my Garmin. 3:15:12. “Well Shit!” I missed out automatically qualifying for next year’s race by 12 seconds. Those same 12 seconds I spent on the concrete 200 meters away. Initially, nothing but disappointment crept into my mind. I thought I had failed.

But then I remembered something important. A marathon is in fact a race, someone wins, always. But it is more a test of heart and soul, determination, and sheer will power than skill. I didn’t fail.

I learned I could push myself to be better, faster and more determined through months of hard work. I learned more about overcoming adversity training for and running a marathon than I ever thought I could. I learned how important having goals are and sharing those goals with the ones you love.

Last weekend, I met amazing people through Team Up! and got to share my personal story of Autism with them and together we shared the 2016 Chicago Marathon.

2,323 people crossed the finish line before me, but I finished. In the process I took 2:22 (min/sec.) off my best time. I left the post race party doing a little dance (literally), enjoying the music with my hands in the air. It may not have been the outcome I wanted, but in the end, I had a lot to celebrate!

Chicago Marathon Weekend — Before the Race

Preparations for our Chicago trip were in full swing for most of last week. One of the most important things that had to be done before we left was a haircut. During the course of fundraising for Team Up! a friend had told me he was willing to make a sizeable donation this year, but I was going to have to earn it. An idea was thrown out and when another friend caught wind of it he agreed to match the donation. For a $400 donation, I had agreed to shave something into the back of my hair and it had to remain for the entirety of our trip.  This is the result:


It’s a 13 hour drive from Upstate New York to Chicago, so to make it easier on the kids we left at bedtime on Thursday night. Within the span of a few minutes both kids were snoring in the back seat leaving us able to drive a solid chunk of the trip without having to stop. Traveling this way has it’s pros and cons – the kids sleep but that leaves us staying up the entire night driving – it’s exhausting!

Our first stop was at O’Hare International Airport to pick up our back up for the weekend – Grandma! She flew in from Michigan for the weekend to help us out with the kids while we attended the various activities that we had planned. Poor timing on our part left us stuck in early morning Chicago traffic. Once we left the airport it took us nearly an hour to get over to the expo.

Once we arrived at McCormick Place and walked what seemed like a mile to get to the actual expo it was time to pick up bibs! The kids were a little overwhelmed with the amount of people so they hung out with Grandma outside while we visited some of the vendors and did a little shopping. We also stopped at the Nike pace booth to sign up for a pace group for Sunday.

After the expo we were all pretty hungry so we checked into our hotel and set out for food. After dinner we were all pretty exhausted from traveling all night so it was an early bedtime.

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early as I had registered to run the Chicago International 5K.


 The first International Chicago 5k began at Daley Plaza, where the Chicago Marathon starting line was many years ago. It was a great event and great start to the weekend. The course ran along Lake Michigan and finished a short distance from the marathon finish line. It was a timed event but I was using it as a shakeout run, so I just enjoyed the views and went for a three mile jog. 

We had plans to take the kids to the Shedd Aquarium so once the 5K was complete we picked up the kids and Grandma and made our way back across town.  We also had something extra special planned for the Aquarium. Parker was going to get a chance to meet his IRun4 buddy who flew in from New Orleans to run the marathon with Team Up! We were all very excited to get the chance to meet Rachel and her boyfriend. They spent the morning with us while we checked out all of the exhibits. Both kids had a blast – they especially loved the penguins!


After several hours at Shedd it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Team Up! Chicago team dinner. Just like last year it was held at Maggiano’s Little Italy. We got a chance to meet some other team members who would be running the next day. I also had the opportunity to speak and share a little bit about our family and our reasons for choosing to run with Team Up!


After spending a couple of hours at the dinner it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready to tackle 26.2 the next morning!


It’s Officially Chicago Marathon Week!

Good morning everyone and welcome back to the Tale of 2 Halfs. It may in fact be a dismal and rainy Monday in New York but it’s an exciting week as we leave for the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Thursday evening.

It’s been a long and difficult road for both of us this summer and unfortunately, only one of us will make it to the starting line. As we’ve already mentioned, Jen suffered a hip injury this summer that is preventing her from running her first marathon. She still struggles with the reality and disappointment of  not be able to race after months of training and I know it will be hard on her all weekend. She worked her butt off this summer and as her husband, I could not be more proud of what she accomplished before her injury. She proved to herself that she could reach new heights and push herself, mentally and physically, to places she had never been.

Inside I pray Jen comes back strong and healthy and has even more passion and determination next year to accomplish her goal. If she does, then she truly will “Own Chicago” in 2017.

As for myself, my 18 weeks of training is concluding and the last few weeks have been crazy busy. Unfortunately my days don’t slow down before we leave. I’ve missed some runs and a lot of sleep and my body is letting me know! I’m exhausted and sore. I’m trying to remain positive, trust my training and envision a strong race.

I’ll finish this last week with a total of 791.2 miles of training. This is 34.94 miles less than last year’s total of 826.14 but with one huge caveat. The 2015 Chicago Marathon was first marathon of the year, thus my marathon training didn’t start till June – although I had been running all year. This year, I ran the Buffalo Marathon over Memorial weekend and had already trained for 18 weeks starting in late January and logged 794.46 miles during that training period. Minus my two weeks of rest following Buffalo in early June, I’ve mostly been training since January and have logged 1,585.66 miles!!

A lot of sweat goes into preparing for these races, for myself and everyone who trains. But something I like to remind myself before each event is this: The race is the reward after months of training. The hard work is over. Enjoy the moment! 

See you from Chicago!!!

Handle with Care: Washing your Lycra Garments

We all know the trouble keeping our workout clothes from smelling like they were left in a cauldron of body odor for a month. And if your like us, your always experimenting with better ways to wash your clothes to keep them, and you, performing your best. Today we are happy to invite SLS3 to our blog for a guest post on caring for your performance wear. Be sure to stick around till the end for a special offer from SLS3!

A Guest Post Courtesy of SLS3

You’ve spent your hard earned money on your exercise gear like Running Shorts or Compression Socks and now it’s time to put it to the test. After a grueling workout, you and your Lycra® containing gear are ready for a bath. By the way, Spandex is the generic Lycra® version. Lycra® is a brand name trademarked by DuPont.


After Your Workout

As much as we hate it, we’re all drenched in sweat after a good workout, which means our clothes are, too. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes right after your workout, or you’re too tired like me, then hang dry your workout clothes, making sure there are no wrinkle or overlaps. This prevents your gear from turning into a mildew breeding ground. Gross! It also helps prevent weird stenches from staying trapped inside your clothes.


Getting the Stink Out

The best method for remedying smelly gym clothes is to give them a prewash. Soak your Lycra® outfits in one part vinegar, and four parts water for at least 30 minutes before hand washing, or throwing them into the washing machine. Rinse your clothes thoroughly before washing them to get rid of any vinegar.


Some Dont’s to Remember

Do not mix vinegar and bleach ever! If your detergent contains bleach rinse out your vinegar soaked clothes before throwing them in the washer. Do not use vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer if your detergent contains bleach.

Do not use heat for any of your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy the elastic properties aka the Lycra® fibers of your outfits. Avoid the dryer, ironing and the sun. Remember: Heat is bad.

Do not use chlorine or bleach. This will destroy the fibers of the fabric and you will get “bag and sag” syndrome.

Do not use Fabric Softener. These are used to soften clothes and will make sure your expensive garment will never retain its shape. Avoid the fabric softener.


In the Wash They Go

Although it is said that hand washing is always the way to go, most of us don’t have time for that. Don’t fret though! It is safe for your Lycra® garments to go into the washing machine following these steps. First, make sure that all of your zippered garments are zipped all the way up to prevent the zipper track from snagging onto other fabric during the washing cycle. Turn your clothes inside out. Put delicate items into a mesh laundry bag, lingerie bag, or pillowcase to protect them (Definitely do this for Bib Shorts).


The Set-Up

If you are worried that a pre-soak just won’t cut it for getting all the smells out, you can put some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of your washer. This will make sure your washer will dispense vinegar in the rinse cycle. Always use cold water when washing your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy them. Set your washer on the “Delicates” setting to prevent damage of your clothes.


Less is More?

Use less detergent than you normally would for your Lycra® clothes. While detergent cleans your clothes, you definitely don’t want a build up of it on your workout clothes. A build up of detergent will trap in dead skin cells and trap bacteria into the fabric. If you want to make sure your clothes last, try a detergent designed for washing workout clothes.


Finishing Touches

After the washing cycle has been finished, hang your clothes up, or lay them down flat to dry. Never put them in the dryer. Remember heat is not friendly to Lycra® clothes. Lycra® is a fast drying fiber so your clothes should not take too long to air dry.


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Lake Placid Classic Recap

Last weekend I ran my only tune-up race before the 2016 Chicago Marathon in gorgeous Lake Placid, New York. The Classic, in its 46th year, is known as “The Original Lake Placid Half Marathon.”

The race is known for its gorgeous views and challenging course profile. This was my second time participating in this race, as I ran back in 2014 when I finished 18th in a time of 1:37:50.

We left early the morning of the race and traveled the approximately hour and half to Lake Placid. We arrived in plenty of time and picked up my bib, race shirt and commemorative pint glass. The family hung out on the Olympic Oval that hosted the 1980 Winter Games where Eric Heiden won 5 gold medals and set four Olympic Records and one World Record in the process. Jen and I have had the opportunity to skate on history — many years ago pre-children. Parker and I completed some warm-up laps, took some pictures and prepared for the race.

The course begins right out in front of the Olympic Oval and makes it way through town, around Mirror Lake and out of town past the Ski Jumping Complex before making it’s way out to River Road and gorgeous scenery.

The race went about as well as I could have hoped and I was running on pace through the first 10 miles. However, the last 3 miles I just didn’t have the legs to power through the hills and fell behind my pace. I crossed the finish line in 1:29:40, beat my personal course best by 8:10 and finished 1:02 short of my personal best. I love races where my son, the avid runner, can cross the finish line with me; it’s a special moment for both him and I and I love seeing the smile on his face.


I finished in 4th place overall, 3rd male and first in my 30-39 age group. For my efforts I received a nice rustic plaque (although a new one is being sent because the manufacturer made an error and printed 5K on them rather than 13.1), a $50 gift certificate to a local running store, wonderful medal and the confidence heading into Chicago that my next goal is within reach.


On your mark…

It’s that time of year everybody – race season! Tomorrow begins a stretch of 3 races over the next two months. I begin with the Lake Placid Classic (a half marathon tune-up), followed by the Chicago Marathon on October 9th and close out the year with the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

Lake Placid Classic:

I last ran this event in 2014 and finished  a respectable 18th overall in 1:37:50, my best time at this point in history.

I hadn’t trained then nearly as hard as I have the last two years and since this race in 2014 I have lowered my half marathon time to 1:28:50. I have ambitions to best this time tomorrow, giving me a large boost of confidence as I begin my taper for Chicago. I’m realistic that this may not happen and I’m just hoping to enjoy the event and finish healthy.

2016 Chicago Marathon:

IMG_1624My “Main Event” this fall, this will be my second Chicago Marathon in a row. This is a special event for the fact that I am a member of Team Up! with Autism Speaks and running on behalf of my son. I’m saddened to know that Jen is not able to run this race with me this year after all her hard work training and fundraising due to her injury, but she’ll still be going and participating in most of festivities.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aiming for a PR. I have worked hard all summer in pursuit of this goal. 30 more days before I see if it was enough.



New York City Marathon:

0038tMy final event for 2016 is the biggest of all marathons. Last year I ran this event on short notice as a last-minute charity runner. I finished under 3:30 and was impressed that I even ran that fast coming back from a great run in Chicago only weeks earlier. I definitely have a lot more understanding and respect for this race course now and although I don’t anticipate aiming for a PR, I would like to improve on my time from last year.